The Arkansas Senate has passed a bill that would prevent medical practitioners from providing healthcare to trans minors in a shocking blow to the LGBT+ community.
The senate passed HB 1570 on Monday (29 March), making Arkansas the first state to ban puberty blockers and hormone treatment for trans youth.
The bill will now go to governor Asa Hutchinson to be signed into law. LGBT+ rights activists are calling on the governor to veto the dehumanising law.
Chase Strangio, deputy director for transgender justice at the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), said HB 1570 is “the single most extreme anti-trans law to ever pass through a state legislature”.
Celebrities, human rights organisations and LGBT+ communities across the United States reacted with fury to the news, with many criticising legislators for attacking and targeting children.
Laverne Cox slammed Arkansas legislators for ‘targeting trans children’
“It’s exhausting,” Cox said in the emotional video. “I encourage us to look at this in the context of years-long attempts to stigmatise and further marginalise trans people and have that stigma codified into law.
“This is not new. We’ve seen bathroom bills, we’ve seen other bills in previous years, and now we see bills like HB 1570, which would criminalise doctors providing healthcare – medically necessary health care – to children.”
Schitt’s Creek star Dan Levy reacted to the horrific bill on Twitter, writing: “This is f**king abhorrent,” while Jameela Jamil branded it “horrific” and said it will not stop trans youth from transitioning.
“Just like banning abortion won’t stop abortions. It will just stop SAFE transitioning. It will also cost more lives than we can fathom.”
She added: “This is so disgusting and inhumane. Trans lives matter. Trans health matters. Trans kids matter.”
Writer Raquel Willis said the law is part of a larger effort to strip trans people of their humanity.
“Transphobes don’t just strip trans women of being women and trans men of being men… as you can see in Arkansas and states across the country, they strip trans children of being children, and essentially, they strip all trans people of simply being people.”
Willis continued: “As hard as it is and as many stumbles will come, we have to continue to be a threat to that power, to the binary. I truly find my reserve of energy in knowing that we’re not the first generations of folk to dream of something better and we won’t be the last one as long as we fight.”
Drag Race star Symone branded the law “disgusting and beyond damaging”, while actress Meghan Rienks said transphobia is “deadly”.
“Why do these people care about unborn children more than the ones who are alive???” she tweeted. “F**k all of y’all. This is inhumane.”
Dwyane Wade, who has been vocal in his support for his trans daughter Zaya, tweeted: “Your hate will not be final. Love will always win in the end!” Arrested Development star David Cross branded the law “disgusting and immoral”.
The bill has been condemned by LGBT+ rights organisations, including the Trevor Project and the Human Rights Campaign.
The evidence is clear: gender-affirming care produces positive mental health outcomes and reduces suicide risk.
“Denying trans people healthcare is denying trans people the right to be themselves,” the Human Rights Campaign wrote on Twitter. “That is not and will never be OK.” The organisation urged the governor to veto the bill.
Sam Brinton of the Trevor Project urged governor Hutchinson to “listen to the experts” on affirming healthcare for trans youth.
“The evidence is clear: gender-affirming care produces positive mental health outcomes and reduces suicide risk. That’s why it’s considered best-practice, embraced by doctors across the country, and endorsed by every major medical association. Governor Hutchinson should listen to the experts – and transgender young people in Arkansas – and veto this cruel bill. It’s a matter of life and dead,” they said.
The latest attack on trans youth in Arkansas comes just days after Hutchinson signed into law a ban on transgender women and girls competing in school sports, while Mississippi governor Tate Reeves signed a similar bill just weeks before.
The bills are part of a “legislative boom” that has taken place in the first three months of 2021, which has seen more than 60 bills introduced in 25 state legislatures targeting transgender children.
Another bill, the Medical Ethics and Diversity Act, is currently making its way to the governor’s desk after it was passed by the Arkansas legislature. If signed, the bill would give medical and healthcare professionals the right to refuse treatment to a patient because of their “religious, moral or ethical beliefs”.
Human rights activists have warned that the bill would allow medical practitioners to refuse treatment to LGBT+ people.